State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is now calling for the resignation of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo – a sign of escalating pressure from members of his own party to step aside amid allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.
The Democratic governor said Sunday he has no plans to step down.
“New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement provided to CNN Sunday.
“We have more allegations about sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, the loss of credibility surrounding the Covid nursing home data and questions surrounding the construction of a major infrastructure project,” she said.
Stewart-Cousins’s decision to join a growing number of state Democratic lawmakers pushing for Cuomo to step down upped the pressure on the three-term governor, who appears to be losing his grip on the state capitol he has ruled for a decade. The move will also put new focus on New York Sens. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the US Senate, and Kirsten Gillibrand, as the state’s Democratic hierarchy considers how to respond to the persistent stream of allegations against the governor.
New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie in a tweet Sunday said he shares the same sentiment as Stewart-Cousins regarding the governor’s ability to lead the state.
“The allegations pertaining to the Governor that have been reported in recent weeks have been deeply disturbing, and have no place whatsoever in government, the workplace or anywhere,” Heastie said.
He went on to say, “We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”
Cuomo said in a news conference shortly before Stewart-Cousins released her statement that he would not resign, doubling down on his previous position, and insisting again that no judgment should be made before the conclusion of State Attorney General Letitia James’ probe of the allegations.
Stewart-Cousins called Cuomo Sunday morning less than an hour before his press call to inform him that she could no longer support him and that she planned to call for his resignation, according to a source briefed on the conversation.
According to the source, Cuomo told the legislator that she should listen to his press call – during which he told reporters he wasn’t resigning.
“There are some legislators who suggest that I resign because of accusations that made – are made against me. I was elected by the people of the state. I wasn’t elected by politicians. I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” Cuomo said.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.